Ronald Acuña, Jr. is vying for an elusive title. He is aiming to be the fifth Major Leaguer to ever reach 40 home runs and 40 steals in the season. The 40-40 club has four current members. Here is a look at the predecessors to Acuña’s greatness.
1988: Jose Canseco (Oakland), 42 home runs, 40 steals
The founder of the 40-40 club, Canseco was one half of the “Bash Brothers” in Oakland. Canseco led the MLB in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS+. He translated his stellar campaign into the AL MVP Award, leading the A’s to a trip to the World Series. Canseco hit the mark with his 40th steal in his 151st game, stealing a pair of bases and hitting his 41st home run.
For the remainder of his career, Canseco hit the 40 homer plateau in 1991 and 1998. Canseco never got to 40 steals again, maxing out with 29 in 1998. Canseco’s 40-40 campaign was out of the ordinary for Canseco as he recorded 20% of his career steals in the 1988 season. Over a 17-year career, Canseco only reached 20 steals in three seasons.
For his entire career, Canseco was a six-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. He was AL Rookie of the Year in 1986 and he secured four Silver Sluggers.
1996: Barry Bonds (San Francisco), 42 home runs, 40 steals
Taking a page out of Canseco’s handbook, Bonds finished with an identical stat line and the second spot in the 40-40 club. It took Bonds until his final appearance with the Giants to get to 40 steals. As a whole, Bonds had a serious grind to hit the 40 steal mark. He had to record an absurd 13 steals in his final 16 games. For context, in a 162-game season, Bonds would have broken the MLB record for most steals in a season. On September 12th, Bonds had 39 home runs and 27 steals. After a terrific finish to the season, Bonds finished fifth in NL MVP voting and was named a Silver Slugger.
Unlike Canseco, Bonds was familiar with both the 40 homers and 40 steals mark. In his career, Bonds hit 40 homers eight times and got to 40 steals thrice. Bonds holds the record for home runs with 762, and he swiped 514 bags.
In the scope of his entire career, Bonds could be the greatest player of all-time. He was a seven-time MVP, adding 14 All-Star appearances to an illustrious career. Bonds also had eight Gold Gloves in left field and gathered 12 Silver Sluggers.
1998: Alex Rodriguez (Seattle), 42 home runs, 46 steals
Unlike his contemporaries, Rodriguez hit the 40 steal mark first. With just a handful of games left, Rodriguez launched his 40th homer in Game 153 for the Mariners. Rodriguez finished ninth in AL MVP voting, and he was named as a Silver Slugger. Rodriguez led baseball in plate appearances and at-bats while leading the AL in hits and posting a terrific .310 batting average and .919 OPS.
1998 would be the only time that Rodriguez hit the 40 steal mark, maxing out with 29 in 1997. 1998 was the first time that Rodriguez got to the 40 homer mark, a mark he would hit in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007, leading the AL in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007. Rodriguez launched 696 home runs over the course of his career, and he added 329 steals.
Looking back on Rodriguez’s career, he won three MVPs, the 2009 World Series, a pair of Gold Gloves, 10 Silver Sluggers, and a batting title in 1996. Rodriguez finished his career with 3,100 hits and the fourth most home runs in the history of the sport.
2006: Alfonso Soriano (Washington), 46 home runs, 41 steals
Soriano got to the 40 steal mark with two weeks left in the season during his only season in America’s capital. Soriano had gotten to the 40 homer mark halfway through August. Soriano finished the 2006 season with an All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger award, and a sixth-place finish in the NL MVP race.
Soriano only hit the 40 homer mark in 2006, but he was a repeat offender in the 40 steal club. He had 43 steals in 2001 and 41 steals in 2002, leading the league. He got to the 30-30 club an astonishing four times for three different teams. Between 2002 and 2006, Soriano averaged 40 home runs and 35 steals per 162 games. Soriano finished with 412 home runs and 289 steals over 16 seasons.
Soriano is not as decorated as the other members of the club as he only made seven All-Star games and was a four-time Silver Slugger. However, he was an important cog on a pair of Yankee World Series clubs, although they famously lost in 2001 and 2003.
At the time of writing, Acuña has nine games to get three steals to become the fifth member of the 40-40 club. Will he do it?